Biofeedback is a sensitive and non-invasive computer-aided method, with which the physical reactions of a patient being stimulated can be measured and reported back to him instantly. The patient can observe the feedback on a computer screen (visually) or by sound (auditorily).
Biofeedback of human brain activity is called neurofeedback. Neurofeedback devices measure the brain waves in a so-called electroencephalogram (EEG). This EEG is analyzed and compared with a database before feedback is given directly or indirectly to the treated person. Indirect neurofeedback measures brain activity and provides the observed person with visual and/or auditory feedback. Direct neurofeedback takes the same approach, however, the feedback is given directly by very small energy impulses, so-called transcranial feedback.
Different types of biofeedback are used to treat various physical and emotional problems. For example:
Electromyographic biofeedback (EMG) can be used to treat muscle tension, headaches, neck and jaw pain, etc.
The temperature biofeedback helps you to determine the blood circulation in different parts of the body. A head injury can lead to temperature dysregulation. Many people feel very hot or very cold.
Electro-Dermal Response (EDR) is a method of measuring the body's tendency to respond to a fight or flight. This can happen after a traumatic event.
Pneumographic biofeedback (respiratory biofeedback) is a method for measuring breast and abdominal breathing. Your relaxation response is significantly improved.
Biofeedback with heart rate variability harmonizes cardiovascular and physiological systems, which can have a positive effect on diseases such as depression and anxiety.
In EEG neurofeedback or brain wave biofeedback the patient learns to suppress or amplify certain brain wave frequencies in order to improve flexibility and thinking in his brain (neuroplasticity). The primary brain wave frequencies that are measured include so-called frequency ranges that are referred to as delta, theta, alpha, low beta or beta. Different brain wave frequencies - and a combination of those - are associated with different conditions and different disorders. For example, people with traumatic brain injuries often have an abundance of low-frequency brain waves in certain areas of the brain. Attention deficit disorders also show high amplitudes in low brain wave frequencies at the frontal and central lobes of the brain. During a session, the patient learns to move flexibly in and out of certain brain wave constellations to improve performance.
Advantages of biofeedback and neurofeedback
The benefits of biofeedback depend on the skills you want to learn. For example, you can learn to warm your hands, reduce your blood pressure, or relieve migraine headaches. By learning to relax the muscles in your face, neck, shoulders, and back, you may be able to eliminate or reduce tension headaches, jaw pain, back pain, or gritting and grinding your teeth. By learning to relax rather than stress, you can reduce anxiety.
The advantages of neurofeedback are as well manyfold. For example, you can learn to change your brain wave frequencies and/or amplitudes to improve foggy thinking, clarity and cognitive endurance.